The Partnership for Food Safety Education lists four basic steps to help prevent foodborne illness: Clean, Cook, Chill and Separate. These food safety steps are important because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that foodborne microorganisms are responsible for 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the United States every year!
Not only can you get sick from foodborne pathogens, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that 2-3% of all foodborne illnesses lead to serious secondary long-term illnesses. For example: Hemolytic uremic syndrome, the main cause of kidney failure in children, is caused by infection with E. coli O157:H7 (CDC); irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has been associated with various food-related gastrointestinal infections including Norovirus and various bacterial illnesses (Spiller & Garsed, 2009); Spontaneous abortion, meningitis, and sepsis have all been linked to infection with Listeria monocytogenes (CDC); and individuals infected with Campylobacter are at a 77-fold greater risk of developing the Guillian-Barre syndrome than the general population (Tam et al., 2006).
Check out these video segments as a quick review of the basic four.
- Clean (video): Illness-causing bacteria can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, and cutting boards. Remember, clean hands and surfaces, not meat and poultry!
- Clean fact sheet
- Cook (video): The only way to know food has been cooked to a safe internal temperature is to use a food thermometer.
- Chill (video): Keep cold foods cold. Thaw meat in the refrigerator, never on the counter. Marinade food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
- Separate (video): Separate raw meats from ready to eat foods like fruits and vegetables.
- Separate fact sheet
For even more video learning, the University of Wisconsin Extension FoodWIse program has multi-language videos on topics like safe handling of leftovers, food product dating, and much more!
Review the basic four steps to keep you and your family food-safe. Stay well and food-safe, Barb